How to Find Meteorites
There are basically two ways to
build a personal meteorite collection. Purchase them from a dealer or a
collector, or go out and find them yourself. Anyone can find meteorites, if you
know what to look for. However, there are some tools and hints to help those
just beginning are just ordinary people with a hunger for meteorites.
Since meteorites are scarce, you will
find a ready market for them if you find one.
- The first thing to look for is a "fusion
crust". This is a dark surface sometimes with flow lines. It is caused by the
heat of the friction when the meteorite enters Earth's atmosphere.
- ALL meteorites contain metal. The nickel-iron
ones are mostly metal, and the stony ones have a high metal content, although
it may be ground up too fine and mixed in the silicate material to be seen. As
such, Magnets will be attracted to meteorites. The stronger the magnet, the
more it will attract even a stony meteorite. The "magnet on a string" is a
simple tool to test for meteorites.
- Since meteorites contain metal, look for
smooth, rusty rocks.
- Meteorites are a little (and sometimes a lot)
heavier than a typical Earth rock.
Tools to Assist You
- A metal detector is invaluable for the serious meteorite hunter.
- Magnet-on-a-string. Use it as a pendulum and hold it next to a specimen to
detect deflection, which may be a clue.
- Variations on this include a magnet on the end of a walking stick or cane.
The stronger the magnet the better. This will save your back from bending over
each suspected meteorite to test it.
- The great H.H. Nininger, the father of meteorite hunters, fashioned a
magnetic rake which he would tow behind his vehicle.
O. Richard Norton's
Rocks of Space. Dick Norton has written the "bible" for meteorite
hunters. A must-read. It has maps, diagrams, stories, and everything a
meteorite hunter must know to intelligently hunt for treasure from space.
Where to Look
- "Strewn Fields" This is the footprint of
an impact. Several worldwide strewn fields are shown in the
Norton's book, some in
the U.S. These have been searched by others, but there is undoubtedly material
that has not yet been found.
- Deserts--The desert is devoid of
ground-covering plant life, and infrequent rain. It is a good region for
hunters, as meteorites will not weather and erode as fast, and are right on
the surface. Sand dunes are especially good.
- Craters Again, known craters are shown in
Norton's book. Be
careful here-Meteor Crater in Arizona, once the source of thousands of
specimens, is now closed to meteorite hunters. You can be arrested and fined.
You should always check if the area is on private property, and get permission
before entering. This is especially true overseas.